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How Oppenheimer Proved Einstein Wrong About Black Holes


Grim Reaper 6

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In a 1939 paper, Oppenheimer, then a particle physicist, declared that black holes were the inevitable result of the Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, contrary to the hopes of that scientist. Oppenheimer declared, like a few others before him, that black holes weren’t just a quirk of the mathematics, but likely real astrophysical objects — that a star massive enough is destined to implode, creating a trap from which what goes in cannot come back out. “Mathematically, the work of Oppenheimer and his colleagues was really important to put these on firm theoretical footing,”

But in a 1939 paper entitled “On Continued Gravitational Contraction,” Oppenheimer and his co-author Hartland Snyder showed that a sufficiently massive star, when it exhausts its nuclear fuel, will necessarily contract forever, forming what we now know as a black hole.  It would take the work of John Wheeler in the 1950s, and then Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking in the 1960s and 70s, to pick back up on the work Oppenheimer started and fill in the understanding of black holes we have today.

How Oppenheimer Proved Einstein Wrong About Black Holes (msn.com)

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His work was also really important to the Soviets to whom he (let's face it, children) vey likely gave up our program.  Movie was great, though.

Looking forward to Nolan's glowing and incomplete take on Nelson Mandela next.

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